Makansutra: Fine fare and tacos in Mexico City
Our street food expert gets a taste of real Mexican chow beyond Tex-Mex burritos
"A taco is a spoon, plate and napkin, all in one" - and that is one simple story behind Mexican food that Professor Alberto Peralta weaved at the recently concluded Foro Mundial de la Gastronomia Mexicana.
The fourth edition of the gastronomic festival in Mexico City was a celebration of this rich and often misunderstood food culture.
The festival had a series of talks and conferences, with food booths manned by people representing the deeper corners of Mexico - from Oaxaca, Chiapas, Baja California, Puebla and even Chihuahua.
Puebla is famed for mole (a sort of Mexican sambal), and Baja California is a seaside desert known for its superb seafood fare.
Foodies, Mexico should be on your travel list. Follow my trail as I had the pleasure of dining at some of the best restaurants and taco stalls in Mexico City.
Calle Isabel la Catolica 30, Centro Mexico D.F.
When: Monday to Saturday, 9am to 11.30pm; Sunday 9am to 6pm
This iconic restaurant is run by the famed chef Ricardo Munoz Zurita. He has a signature list of favourites such as the Taco Soup served in a funny La Calavera Catrina skeleton socialite bowl.
The menu changes weekly, with chefs from different regions helming a special menu.
When I was there, it was chow from Tabasco, and the crab tamales with a herbed tomato sauce was totally agreeable to me, much like a soft crab bak chang.
Calle Francisco Petrarca 254, Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco, 11570 Ciudad de Mexico, D.F
When: Monday to Saturday, 1.30pm to 10.30pm
Reservations at pujol.com.mx
It is a regular top 25fixture on the World's Best Restaurants list. Many other celebrity chefs in the city have paid their dues here.
The prix-fixe menu comes with about eight items costing 1,972 pesos (S$136).
Unlike many other "creative" menus, I can connect with this one as it is based on street and heritage food.
The starters are a collection of "Street Snacks", which include crispy chicken skin tostadas with macadamia nuts.
The refreshing munch was the raw herbed lobster tostada that was very difficult not to like.
LOS TACOS DE PEPE
Calle Miguel Lerdo de Tejada 18, Azcapotzalco DIF 02000
When: Sunday to Thursday, 5pm to 1am; Friday and Saturday, 3pm to 3am
The queue for the steak and sausage (longanisa) tacos (made fresh on the spot) is unrelenting.
It is my kind of place - standing space only, buskers, no frills, just big flavours.Add some mozzarella cheese to the beef steak platter topped with spicy salsa with grilled onions, and it says "welcome to Mexico City".